Ch. 9: Isn’t there a back office job in the superhero department?
There must be an opening somewhere other than in the field.
There’s a milestone for marathon runners somewhere around mile 20 where they have to make a decision to keep going or call it a day. It’s similar to when you get home from a full day with the kids at the lake, complete with frisbee, lunch, sun, and sand castles only to be asked, “Dad, wanna play some basketball?”
You were pretty sure there was a large placard on your forehead and that said, “I’m Done.” Maybe a hovering neon sign above your head that blinked on and off: “We’re Closed.”
You thought you had done what was required of you. You even went above and beyond the call of duty and built the sand castle when you really just wanted to read your book with your eyes closed on the towel up in the shade. But no. You gathered up your lumbering frame and made the extra effort. Was someone taking a tally of this? Did the sand castle job earn me at least a few extra bonus brownie points? When does it end? When do I get to rest on my laurels anyway? Who, while we’re on the subject, is Laurel anyway?
I did the whole Italian cafe. I stuck with it. I saw the creepy crawlies on the receipts. I survived. I made it. Did I get an award? No. Did I even get my coffee? I don’t even remember.
Then Lisa on the canal. We talked. I saw glowing marbles in people. It was magnificent. I get it. But why me? Isn’t there someone else for the job? What am I supposed to do anyway? Why was I the chosen one? Don’t I have any say in this? Did I accidentally tick the wrong box on the application for Master of Time, Space, and Dimension? What if I changed my mind? Ha, ‘changed my mind.’ A little headspace humor there in case I wasn’t paying attention.
What if I don’t want to be able to see silly marbles? What if I’m happy talking to my dad in my dreams, but am really, honest and truly, not sure what I’m supposed to do with him when he shows up, as real as a wax museum figure, in my hair salon?
What if I secretly want to go back to my normal life and not lead a life of unlimited power, fame, and helping others see what I can see? OK, don’t put it like that, then I’m going to feel guilty. But what if that’s how I really feel? Do superheroes, and this is not stating, for the record, by any means that I’m assuming I’m some kind of unwilling, accidental superhero, get to choose what they want to do? Aren’t there lesser-known superheroes who get to work in the back office and check in on the heroes in the field? Maybe they come out once in a while and do an investigation. Maybe there’s a part-time position. Maybe someone is going on maternity leave or sabbatical. That would be perfect.
These were the thoughts that accompanied me through the streets of Utrecht as I walked away from the hair salon and my dad.
But he was so real. I was talking to him. Could the stylist see him? She must have been able to. Otherwise, she would have wondered what I was doing talking to, well, no one on the other side of the salon. Maybe she was in on it.
So many questions. Where was the manual? Don’t I at least get a New Employee Handbook? Do I get a swipey-card with a magnetic strip? Is this an hourly thing or on a per-imaginary-project basis? Are there guidelines? Rules? Do I have a boss? Who is Lisa? What about that hairdresser? How is she involved?
That was it. See, I knew that talking to myself wasn’t just a sign of temporary insanity, but that I was strategically organizing and plotting my complete overhaul of the logistics of my life. Well, either that or I was a tiny bit crazy. But crazy wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing.
Back to planning. I needed to confront the hairdresser. I would give her a piece of my mind. Ha, get it? Another little mind joke there. If you’re not getting them right away, I can flag them somehow because if you’re missing out, you’re really missing out on some zingers. Just saying.
I turned around and started walking back to the hair salon. I worked through some questions in my head to prepare for the confrontation. Let’s see. ‘Who are you and what do you want?’ Well, that was a little harsh. Maybe ‘Did you also see the man on the other side of the room. Did you know that was my dad? Did you know his number before I did?’ Well, that doesn’t get me very far. I needed to get to the bottom of this and I needed to get there fast. Yes, say that. ‘Excuse me, miss, but I need to get to the bottom of this and I need to get there fast.’ Something like that would do.
Although I was pretty sure I wouldn’t say that. In fact, I wasn’t sure what I would say at all. What I really wanted to know was more along the lines of ‘What in the world is going on here, why me, and what do you have in store for me and do I have any say in the matter as to whether I actually want to do this or not?’ Yes, something like that would do fine.
I got back to the salon and opened the door. My confidence growing with each step. I would start off friendly, but then get down and dirty and get to the bottom of this matter right this instant, young lady. OK, maybe friendly first.
I saw her immediately, but she was working on another customer. This was urgent. This was more important than ‘a little off the top.’ With my most serious and forceful stride, I calmly walked over to her, put my hand on her shoulder and with a friendly but firm tug, I turned her around to look at me.
All of my words left me when I saw that it wasn’t her. It wasn’t the same woman who had cut my hair only minutes before. I had everything and nothing to say, but nothing won out and I was speechless. For some reason, she didn’t seem angry at me for whipping her shoulder around in the middle of her work. She was also speechless, but her speechless seemed much more under control than mine. My lack of communication was a pure void of all control of my functions and I stood there like a 13-year old in math class when asked if he knew the square root of one hundred and forty-four.
I wasn’t doing well with her not saying anything either and I couldn’t read her eyes or face other than she was saying absolutely nothing with both. How could you even do that? Every face had a message, yet hers was blank and truly whispered a big, secret nada.
My heart went into my throat and that was about as close as my vocal chords were going to get to any action. I felt a shudder in my neck and I swallowed. I turned, walked calmly and seemingly in slow motion out the front door and the only thing that I saw with eyes that were in shock as if we just experienced a trauma or a disastrous calamity, was the number painted in gold lettering on the glass front door of the salon.